Transactions dropped by almost a quarter compared with November 2022

Housing sales in the UK in November 2023 fell by 22% year on year, according to the latest data from HM Revenue and Customs.

house prices

House sales in November down for the third consecutive month, HMRC data reveals

Seasonally adjusted estimates by HMRC also reveal that housing transactions have fallen for the third consecutive month, with 84,600 property transactions recorded in September, and 81,770 and 80,780 in October and November respectively.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the estimate of the number of UK residential transactions in November 2023 was 87,640. This represents a 22% decrease from November 2022 and a 2% decrease from October 2023.

>> Also read: UK housebuilding recession: How much worse is it going to get? 

HMRC’s report indicates that current monthly property transactions are similar to pre-pandemic levels in early 2020.

The fall in housing transactions is a further indicator of a slowdown in the housing market, due to high mortgage rates and challenging economic conditions.

Figures published last week show that, while non-seasonally adjusted residential transactions have fallen by 22% since November 2022, the non-residential sector has remained more stable, with a less than 1% increase in transactions over the last 12 months.

Karen Noye, mortgage expert at wealth management firm Quilter, said: “With interest rates looking likely to be at the very least more stable next year there is the potential for a gradual recovery in 2024 on the horizon.

“That said, house prices, after enduring a difficult 2023, may experience further dips in early 2024.”

A recent poll of 41 economists conducted by the Times found that majority of them anticipate that the Bank of England (BoE) will reduce interest rates at least twice by the end of 2024.

The statistics are based on records by HMRC, Revenue Scotland and the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) for Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and Land Transaction Tax (LTT).

November transaction data for Scotland was incomplete across both residential and non-residential transactions due to technical issues, however an estimate has been used to represent Scottish transactions.

The latest Zoopla house price index, released on 22 December, indicated that December house sales have exceeded expectations, with a 17% increase in new sales agreed last month compared to the same time last year.

Due to high mortgage rates, Zoopla’s index noted that cash buyers were set to account for a third of all house sales in 2023.

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said: “UK housing transactions are a fifth below their five-year average, which has been the real story of this slowdown rather than a fall in prices as buyers adapt to higher rates. However, given that inflation has dipped below 4% and mortgage rates are heading in the same direction, we expect sales activity to be stronger over the next six months than the last six.

“Pre-election giveaways may boost the market further in 2024 although demand tends to soften as political uncertainty rises. Either way, most of the correction in house prices looks to be behind us.”